Royal London, Sky Media launch mental health doc with Joe Marler

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Royal London and Sky Media have announced the launch of Big Boys Don’t Cry, a documentary that sees England International Rugby star Joe Marler unpick the discussions around mental health. As a mutual insurer, Royal London wants to level the playing field in sport so people with mental health conditions can achieve their potential. Big Boys Don’t Cry, spearheaded by APX Content Ventures in collaboration with Spark Foundry, will broadcast first at 16:00 (GMT) on the 12th May on Sky Sports Arena.

Joe Marler is an advocate for mental health. He’s recently opened up about his own mental health battles and the darkness he has had to cope with whilst being a dedicated father, husband and representing his country playing international rugby. Now featuring in the Big Boys Don’t Cry documentary, Marler commented, “I wanted to meet people who, like me, had gone down their own mental health ‘rabbit holes’. I wanted to hear about how they found their own ways of getting out of them and gain a better understanding of how mental health issues affect us all.”

The sensitive and uplifting documentary follows Joe Marler as he travels across the UK to gain insights into how others manage their mental wellbeing, including getting stuck into freshwater swimming and testing out his vocal cords singing in a choir.

Across a year like no other in recent memory, the nation’s mental health has been put under increasing strain. In fact, research shows that in March 2021 nearly half (47%) of 2,000 respondents from across the UK reported high anxiety levels – an increase of 38% from pre-Covid. As part of its sponsorship of Big Boys Don’t Cry, Royal London is donating £20,000 to its national poverty charity partner, Turn2us in support of its helpline and contact centre. The charity offers practical information and financial support to people facing life shocks, including mental health illnesses.

Susie Logan, CMO at Royal London, said, “The past year has been tough on people’s mental health, so we’re proud to be partnering with Sky Media to shine a light on the barriers faced by those who suffer from mental health conditions when trying to fulfil their potential.”

Sarah Jones, Director of Planning at Sky Media, added, “We’re thrilled to have brought to life Joe Marler’s adventures across the UK to raise awareness of an incredibly important and personal topic. We hope that audiences will be warmed by his openness and the learnings shared from his journey. We’re also thankful to our long-term partners at Royal London for fully supporting this high-quality documentary for our sports and entertainment channels.”

Marler continues, “I hope that talking about my own mental health will get others talking about theirs and help to normalise it, especially in an alpha male-dominated sport like rugby. We are required to dominate and intimidate opposing players when we cross the white line on the pitch, we must show no weakness or vulnerability in order to win. But it doesn’t have to be like that off the pitch. I want to help spread the message that many others have done already that it’s okay not to be okay. And help people find the right tools to cope.”

The hour-long documentary will broadcast on 12th May at 4pm on Sky Sports Arena and repeated across the week on Sky Sports channels in line with Mental Health Awareness Week. Produced by Ridley Scott Associates, from director Gray Hughes, the documentary is funded through Publicis Media’s APX Content Ventures in collaboration with Spark Foundry.


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